Yet, somehow all the choices end up paralyzing us. I was talking to a friend recently and she’s ready to return to the workforce after spending time at home raising her kids. She’s been overwhelmed by all the possibilities for her future and didn’t know where to turn. Instead, she found herself stuck and procrastinating in moving forward.
In a world where there is so many options, it is becoming ever more difficult to find our focus and act on the things that would truly give us an extraordinary quality of life. Having an effective strategy for overcoming procrastination is critical if we truly want to push past short-term obstacles to create a life of fulfilment.
The abundant choices my friend’s job search returned was overwhelming her, which led to an emotional overload that was distracting her and not allowing her to concentrate. My friend concluded that there simply isn’t enough time to do everything that interests her, which meant she needed to figure out her best yes first.
As I talked with my friend, these steps surfaced to help her overcome her procrastination and overwhelm so she could start a meaningful job search. The first step in overcoming procrastination is to get clear on what exactly you want from every area of your life. This clarity will give you the power to look past distractions that may throw you off course. It gives you a direction and a target which will help to build a mental picture for your life. One of the most destructive effects of procrastination and overwhelm is that it makes you feel out of control. If you don’t know what you want, it is all too easy to jump from one thing to the next and never feel fulfilled. Apart from knowing what you want, you should also develop some strong reasons why you want it. This will give you a sense of purpose and motivation that is critical for staying focused long term.
Once she was clear on what she wanted her life and job to look like, she broke down the application process into bite-sized pieces. Any task, no matter how big, can be broken down into small manageable tasks that are easy to do. If you focus on climbing Mount Everest it will probably put you off immediately, but if you focus on climbing seven small mountain sections, it becomes more believable. The power of chunking down your “big” tasks empowers you to take back control of any overwhelming situation – you cut it down to size. Your size.
With her tasks in hand, she utilized the power of immediacy. What can you do immediately? What action can you take right now that will move you closer to your goal? Doing something, no matter how small, will immediately break your mental pattern of procrastination and put you back in control. Taking the first step, even if it is small will create momentum and you will almost automatically be driven to take another step. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you take the first step. Just do it. Just get it going. And, if you need a little extra push, set a timer. Give yourself five minutes to do the task before you do anything else. You’ll be surprised how this one action forward will spur you on to more.
There are many strategies and skills you can use for overcoming procrastination. You don’t have to be stuck or spinning your wheels. Like any skill, you need to learn and practice it until you get good at it. Eventually, it will become an automatic response and you will develop the habit of taking action despite your fears and apparent limitations.